These gluten-free brown sugar shortbread cookies are buttery with a hint of caramel and cinnamon for an easy treat that everyone will love.
These slightly sweet, flourless shortbread cookies use only 4 ingredients and come together in just 15 minutes. Eat them warm or cool, as is, or cut them into shapes and dust with sprinkles or powdered sugar for holiday baking fun.
When coming up with an idea for a Christmas cookie, I immediately started to think of ways to make it healthy. I mean, that’s what I do as a registered dietitian. But, the idea of a healthy cookie is an oxymoron if ever there was one. Cookies are made to enjoy!
However, there are a few ways to create a “healthier” cookie. If you care to hear about this during the holiday season, read on. If not, skip on down to the recipe because these brown sugar shortbread beauties are tasty no matter how you slice ’em!
But, let’s talk about…
Healthy Christmas Cookies
You don’t have to change your traditional cookie recipes during the holidays. In fact, I don’t recommend it. But I know many people are looking for gluten-free or dairy-free cookie recipes or ones to work with a special diet.
These brown sugar shortbread cookies are gluten-free but are made with real butter. I swapped in blanched almond flour for regular flour for a nutty and delicious shortbread cookie.Flourless Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies - ready in 15 minutes! #ChristmasCookies
Ways to make a healthy cookie
- Go all the way with whole grain or no-grain, no-sugar-added cookie. I don’t recommend this. At that point, you’ll have a healthy breakfast bar shaped like a cookie.
- Take a traditional cookie recipe and reduce the sugar and butter and or swap in a whole grain or nut flour.
- Make a traditional cookie in mini form – and vow to eat less of them.
With this recipe, I used a combination. These cookies are only two bites each, use real (good) butter and almond flour as the base.
The almond flour adds a boost of nutrition (protein + fiber) that you just won’t get from regular flour. Plus, it lets you swap some of the butterfat for healthy fats in almonds.
The cookies are surprisingly tender and tasty with only a handful of ingredients and a few minutes prep.
Using almond flour in cookies
You must use almond flour – not almond meal – for this recipe to work. Almond meal is too coarse to hold the cookies together.
Almond flour has a tender crumb that works well in cookies. The high fat content helps keep the cookies moist too. I like to use it in a number of recipes as an even swap for flour such as in these Almond Flour Sugar Cookies that are perfect for decorating.
More healthy holiday cookies
Flourless Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup almond flour
- 3 tbsp good quality butter, softened
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon sugar (optional for garnish)
- Add the almond flour, butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula (or clean hands), knead the mixture until a moldable dough forms.
- Place it on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a tube shape about 2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate the dough up to 30 minutes, if needed.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Slice the cookies into ¼ inch rounds and place on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.OPTIONAL: Sprinkle each cookie with extra brown sugar or cinnamon sugar for a festive touch.
- Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. When done, the cookies will be golden brown on the bottom and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan about 10 minutes to allow the cookies to set. Place on a wire rack to completely cool before storing.
Tips for almond flour cookies:
- You must use almond flour - not almond meal - for this recipe to work. Almond meal is too coarse and the cookies will likely crumble.
- Use high quality butter. I like Kerrygold brand.
- Keep the butter cold.